Series: Half Bad #1
Published by Penguin Books on January 13th 2015 (reprint)
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 394 pages
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In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and sixteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his seventeenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?
Disclosure: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Nathan is sixteen years old, rushing towards his seventeenth birthday, in Half Bad. All his life he’s known he’s not well-liked, by anyone outside of his family. Well, most of his family anyway. His grandmother and two of his three half-siblings love him just fine, but his father’s never been in the picture, his mother committed suicide, and his eldest half-sister hates his guts.
Why? Because Nathan is the child of a White Witch and a Black Witch; a Half Code, whet, and any number of other slurs that get thrown his way. In a world where white and black equates to good and evil respectively, there is no grey space for those like Nathan, who are judged and sentenced based on his blood. Never mind that Nathan only wants to be left to live in peace, grow up and get his Gifts, so he can be a White Witch like his grandmother and half-siblings (well, 2/3 of his half-siblings).
Sally Green gives us a very present, almost prescient character whose awareness of his world helps keep him out of the clutches of the Council for about a dozen years. Of course, he’s a kid, and kids only know so much; eventually he runs out of options and finds himself imprisoned and tortured. All in the name of the greater good, of course. Never mind that Nathan’s just a kid!
Half Bad is an engrossing and compelling story of a young boy’s journey through the morass that is his life, and how he hangs on to his humanity regardless of what’s done to him. With nowhere to turn and no one in his corner, Nathan has to decide if he can trust – anyone – when presented an offer of help.
I really enjoyed Half Bad, it was entertaining and thought-provoking. I loved that I’m still rooting for Nathan at the end of the book – he hasn’t given me any reasons to doubt his innate goodness. And now I can’t wait for Half Wild (coming next week!) to find out where he goes next… Gimme!! 🙂
Aside: Reading Half Bad brought to mind so many comparisons (for me) to the state of relations today – racial, political, religious – at least, the problem areas that we see played out in the media. The black-or-white, no grey areas, state of so much of the discourse – or lack thereof – is very disheartening, and not conducive to moving forward towards unity. Maybe, like with the witches in Half Bad who realize – and start questioning – the gradual, frog-in-boiling-water, limitations placed on Nathan, the point is that we start thinking about what we see and hear and read. And then, doing something about it. #AllLivesMatter
drey’s rating: Excellent!
Have you read Half Bad? What did you think?